Many thanks to Lauren, Ria’s forever friend, who shared this update.

Whew! It’s been quite a while since I’ve done a general update on Ria for The Horse Fund! I didn’t make as much progress with her over the summer as I would have liked, as I have a terrible ability to wildly overheat in the summer. So from about mid-May until early September, I wasn’t able to ride at all. We focused on groundwork during that time, including clicker training and working off of Warwick Schiller’s early training suggestions, which always does Ria a lot of good.

A barn move

Toward the middle of August, one of the local stables reached out to me to see if I would be interested in a stall. I had added myself to their waiting list when I was first looking to buy Ria. While I absolutely loved the barn owner and care that Ria had been getting at our current barn, this second stable was located 15 minutes closer to home. It also was situated directly next door to a state park with miles of riding trails and cross country jumps. After agonizing over the decision for a few days, I made the call to switch barns yet again.

The barn we moved to was great for a while. However, in February, the barn owner treated me pretty poorly after Ria sustained a paddock injury and we parted ways. So, unfortunately, we had to change barns again. I think it turned out to be a blessing in disguise, though, because we love the new facility. In retrospect I think that perhaps the way that Ria was handled at the previous barn may not have been the best method for her, which resulted in some increased anxiety. They did take excellent care of her, but for whatever reason she seemed to regress in her training while boarded there. On the day we moved out, Ria was actually so anxious that she reared and clipped my head with one of her hooves, resulting in a minor concussion. I’m perfectly fine now, but it gave me a pretty bad scare.

Another barn move

The new facility has around 20+ hours a day of turnout, which has done wonders for Ria’s energy levels. They also have 8+ acre paddocks with extraordinarily lush fields, each of which has about 4-6 horses. Due to the increased turnout time on such great grass, we have been able to drop Ria’s grain ration by over half (9 pounds a day down to just 4 pounds). While you have to cross a 2-lane road in order to access the indoor ring, we have a conveniently located outdoor ring, two round pens, a cross country jump field, and miles of trails on the 100+ acre farm itself.

Happy, healthy, and relaxed

Ria settled in pretty quickly at the new farm and already has a very close paddock and barn buddy named Cam (a young gelding who is another OTTB!). One of the biggest benefits in changing to this new barn is the fact that there is a fantastic trainer living onsite named Kari, who has made unbelievable progress with Ria over the past two months. Ria is so much calmer now, and even when she does get a bit stressed, she’s able to bring herself back down to a relaxed state much more quickly than before.

Before the move, we had gotten to the point where it was taking around 2 hours to load Ria onto a trailer. Just this past weekend, Kari was able to get a very relaxed Ria on and off the trailer multiple times in just 40 minutes. Ria is also more relaxed in the crossties than she’s ever been, which makes me incredibly happy.

Summer plans

While the weather is still nice, I’ve been trying to take advantage of it and get back into riding when I can. I don’t think I’ll be able to keep at it for much longer (remember, I overheat really badly when it’s very humid!), but I have absolute confidence that Kari is going to make great progress with her under saddle this summer.

I didn’t expect the process of restarting Ria to take quite this long when I first got her, but we’re well on our way now. What’s most important to me is that she’s happy, healthy, and far more relaxed than she used to be. I’m really hoping that by the time fall rolls around, I’ll be able to start trail riding her with confidence and maybe even start her over jumps next winter! 

To read Ria’s previous update, please click here.

Many thanks to Grace for providing this update on Play, as she continues her journey to the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover.

New skill- cantering

Things with Play have been going great! We have been doing a lot of trotting, and April 1st we started to canter. She has been so great and level headed when introducing new things, and cantering was no different. We had a difficult time picking up our left lead canter the first week. However, after a few tries she has gotten the hang of it. Play and I went on a few more trail walks around the farm where she lives, and she definitely loved being out on our walks!

On April 28th we shipped from Tampa back to my hometown in New Jersey. Play shipped great and moved to the most amazing farm where we have an indoor ring, outdoor ring, as well as lots of areas to ride around the farm. She seems to really love the new farm and has been so wonderful.

Plus, ground poles and flower boxes!

We added in ground poles and even little flower boxes to trot over, and she has been so smart and taken everything so well. I am beyond proud of how far she’s come since starting to ride her January 1st. I can’t wait to hopefully take her to a horse show in July to get her off the property and see how she is! Play is loving her life in New Jersey, and I am loving every second I spend with her.

To read her previous update, please click here. To learn more about the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover, please click here.

For the third installment of this series, I interviewed WVS club member and a key donor to The Horse Fund, Mike Dzik. While the questions were similar to the two previous interviews, this one is presented as a video.

To learn more about Mike and his passion for thoroughbred racing and aftercare, please watch the video below.

I am thankful to Mike for taking the time to discuss racing, fundraising for aftercare, and our mutual dedication to horses at all stages of their careers.

To read our previous interview, please click here.

Tyler Rumph has been a club member at Wasabi Ventures Stables since November 2019. He also was the first club member to make a donation to The Horse Fund via appreciated securities. I recently interviewed Tyler to learn more about his passion for horses.

What is your relationship with thoroughbreds? 

I do not come from a family that was actively involved with horses much at all. Perhaps my sister rode for a few years. I’m an admirer of horses, a bettor, and an active partnership owner (both racing and breeding) with Wasabi Ventures Stables. 

How long have you been involved? 

I started going to Saratoga when I was 13. I worked at a restaurant in nearby Berkshire County (MA), and each summer the owner would close the place down and take the staff to Saratoga. Of course, I wasn’t able to place a bet until I was 18. 

In 2017, I bought a small share of a thoroughbred filly with a New York-based partnership. She had a very successful career on track, and I was hooked! 

When did you first learn about thoroughbred aftercare? 

I was generally aware of thoroughbred aftercare as a bettor, but, I’m ashamed to admit, it wasn’t important to me as a casual race fan. It wasn’t until I was involved in ownership that I learned how difficult (and important) it is to care for the equine athletes that give us all so much joy and entertainment. The first partnership group I owned with has a good relationship with a Connecticut-based aftercare organization, and the group was always raising money internally to make sure any of the horses they owned were properly retired. 

Do you have other involvements with thoroughbred aftercare? 

None other than making a conscious effort to mention aftercare to anyone who is foolish enough to have a conversation with me about horse racing. 

What made you decide to make a donation with appreciated securities? 

Donating appreciated securities allowed me to maximize the overall tax benefit of a donation to a 501c3. It allowed me to take a deduction for the full appreciated value of the securities while avoiding paying capital gains on the amount of the appreciation (as I would have paid if i had sold the stocks in order to make a donation of the same amount in cash). The Horse Fund made it easy to donate directly from a taxable brokerage account using partner Cocatalyst. 

What do you think people need to know about aftercare? 

Racing people, including owners, breeders, bettors, track operators, auction houses, trainers, fans – anyone who gets “that” feeling just looking at a thoroughbred needs to know that this is a team effort. We need to work together to make sure that not one horse falls through the cracks. And, we all either fail or succeed together. We need to know and remember this because we need non-racing people to know that we’re trying and, ultimately, that we’re making progress.

What else can The Horse Fund do for the horse racing community and/or thoroughbreds? 

The Horse Fund can continue to spread awareness for the need. They can help us understand exactly what goes in to a proper retirement by educating us on their process and by setting an example. This will keep us informed about how we can help, whether it be donating time, money, a connection, or expertise. 

Is there anything else you want to share? 

There’s no better way to create new horse racing fans than live racing. Take someone who has never been to the track!

I’m grateful to Tyler for not only being a generous donor but also for taking the time to complete this interview.

Wasabi Ventures Stables claimed Aspropodia, AKA Soxy, on December 8, 2021. She ran for them three times, finishing second, third, and first. Soxy was claimed away in the third race for WVS. She continued to run at Tampa until the meet ended. She was entered in a race at Gulfstream on June 10, 2022, but was gate scratched. After that race, we saw no works or entries and reached out to her trainer. I reached out to her trainer that summer to check on her status. Unfortunately, I received no reply. I checked with various sources, but all they knew was that she left Gulfstream.

Then a reappearance

In November 2022, I received a text from an assistant trainer, Grace, that Soxy was stabled in the same barn as her at Tampa and was with the same trainer. Soxy began to work again, and in January and February of 2023, she ran three times, finishing last or next to last each time. Again, I reached out to her trainer, offering assistance when he was ready to retire her but received no reply. I asked another trainer, Jesse, if he could let Aspropodia’s trainer know about my offer of assistance, in case he wasn’t getting my messages. Sony’s trainer said that she had been sold privately to another trainer, James Tsirigotis. Jesse then checked in with James and let him know if he needed to retire Soxy at some point, The Horse Fund could help.

Under James’ care, Soxy gained some weight and seemed to train decently. She was entered in a race on March 25th, where she finished last again. Her trainer reached out to Jesse and asked if we were still interested in retiring her. The answer was a resounding yes!

What’s next for Soxy?

A club member at WVS, Nora, had expressed interest in taking Soxy once she retired. Once I had an agreement on purchasing Soxy, Nora then confirmed her interest and that she had a spot for her on a farm in Virginia.

Soxy is going to have a beautiful place to begin her transition to a second career. Nora is keeping options open for Soxy’s next career. Whatever it is, I know she’s going to get her happily ever after.

Here’s Soxy heading to Jesse and Grace’s barn to begin her retirement journey!

To learn about another private purchase for retirement, please click here.

My Pal Jerry ran for Wasabi Ventures Stables from September 2017 through October 2018. He was retired via Beyond the Wire and now is loving life with Jessie. Keep reading to hear her latest update on this nine year old gelding.

The Best Pal

My Pal Jerry is just that, my best pal. He is always happy to see you, loves being pampered, and enjoys trying new snacks. To date I would say peanut butter crackers are his favorite.

Jerry has successfully completed three novice level events over the winter. We’ve started schooling some training level jumps, and he is eager to answer the harder questions. The plan is to do his first training level event in the spring.

Indoor horses?

He is an absolute joy in every way. If the doggie door were slightly bigger I’m sure I would find him on the couch with the dogs.

To read the previous update on Jerry, please click here.

Connie Black has been a club member at Wasabi Ventures Stables since July 2018. She also was the very first club member to become a monthly donor to The Horse Fund. I recently interviewed Connie to learn more about her passion for horses.

What is your relationship with thoroughbreds?

My first real connection with thoroughbred was winning a tiny piece of Willie The Whale with Wasabi. We have always owned quarter horses and began racing them in 2014. In addition to some of the Wasabi race horses and broodmares, I now own my own TB broodmare, who has given me two beautiful fillies, born on the same date a year apart.

How long have you been involved?

I’ve personally been involved with horses, in general, since meeting my husband in 1972. He grew up showing western pleasure horses in 4H, boarded others’ horses, then started barrel racing after we got married. Yes, he even got me to barrel race a few times. I think my life passed before my eyes every time I did it!

When did you first learn about thoroughbred aftercare?

I had heard about TB aftercare through trade magazines and social media before ever owning one. Even though I know very little about the RRP (Retired Racehorse Project), I’ve seen a few people working with horses aimed toward that when we visited our trainer, who used to take our quarter horses to Florida in the off-season from our racing in Indiana. They stayed at a training center next to the Florida Horse Park. The proximity to that drew lots of TB folks to stay at the same training center. It was fun to watch them work their horses in events I’d never seen before.

Do you have other involvements with thoroughbred aftercare?

I don’t directly have any involvement in aftercare, other than always trying to help any of our trainer friends try to find new owners/homes for horses they’ve worked with that just aren’t suited for track life.

What made you decide to become a monthly donor?

I’ve always been one to try to help when it comes to animal causes. My Amazon Prime Smile rewards go to a local animal rescue, His Hands Extended. I’ve been a supporter of The Barn Santuary ever since I first saw the TV show. Being able to have a monthly donation automatically made to The Horse Fund is so very easy. It’s become a permanent part of my monthly horse budget. I even gave up my mani-pedis so I could get another horse! I decided it was a better use of my “fun” money. My nails are always a mess after I come in from the barn anyway! 😄

What do you think people need to know about aftercare?

I think many people may not be aware of all the possibilities that exist for horses leaving the race life. Maybe they’ll go to eventing of some kind, a few may make it to the barrel pen, some may be able to transition to a therapy horse, be used for trail riding, become a broodmare, or my favorite, just be a pasture pet.

What else can The Horse Fund do for the horse racing community and/or thoroughbreds?

I’m thrilled The Horse Fund has been able to step in and assist a few horses start their race retirement years when others would have kept pushing them in a career unsuited to them. Setting a good example of what’s right to do for the horse and being a good steward of the funds collected are great ways to show the industry the best way to help horses post-racing. Maybe at some point The Horse Fund can extend far beyond the membership of Wasabi.

Is there anything else you want to share?

It’s been very educational to be part of the Wasabi family. I’m really grateful for all the information shared and so happy knowing I get to be a small part of helping make a better life possible for some horses through The Horse Fund.

“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”
~Winston Churchill

“Horses do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Many thanks to Connie Black not only for taking the time to answer these questions but also for continuing to be a valued part of our community.

Many thanks to Alison for providing this terrific update on former WVS runner, Willie the Whale.

Willie has been wintering well living on the farm. He’s integrated really well with my two other geldings (a quarter horse and a paint horse) and is often caught playing with the young paint. 

I had high hopes of entering the RRP with Willie this year … but that got put off because my husband and I found out some exciting news – we are expecting our first child! 

With finding out that we were expecting, I put my RRP dreams on hold. I knew I wouldn’t have enough time to adequately prepare, and that wouldn’t be fair to Willie. 

Learning new things

Willie and I have had quite a few really good rides under saddle! When I first got him, one of the hardest things for him was standing at the mounting block, but he’s doing really well with that. In fact, I’ve even taught him how to sidepass into the mounting block for me! Before I got too far along in my pregnancy, we were working a lot on collection and self-carriage. He was doing a great job and really putting the dots together, especially at the trot!

And continuing with groundwork

I’m about 28 weeks pregnant now, so unfortunately, my saddle time has been limited. That just means that Willie and I have gone back to good ol’ groundwork. Lots of lunging, and like I said, I even taught him how to sidepass into the mounting block for me! We are also working on learning lateral movements on the ground (this way when I can get back on him, it’ll be super easy to translate to under saddle!). I’ve attached a photo of William doing a “leg yield” on the ground for me. 

I’m so anxious to get back into the saddle with him! My due date is May 16th and I’m anxiously awaiting spring and summer to get back to my training goals … although, it’s been fun coming up with creative new challenges for Willie and me on the ground. 

To read Willie’s previous update, please click here.

In early August 2022, Wasabi Ventures Stables and Franklin Ave. Equine decided it was time to retire Blue Oyster with Jason and Cristin. She began retirement with two months of stall rest. Thankfully, she healed well and was able to move to a small paddock at the end of September.

Farm life for Blue

I reached out to Jason, who shared the latest on Blue Oyster:

She is doing wonderful.  She has moved out to a large paddock with friends and is enjoying farm life!  You can definitely see it in her face that she knows this is home now and just loves everyone.  She remains so gentle despite her size and loves any treat you are willing to share.  We get a sense from her movement in the paddocks that she should excel in dressage. Blue will begin training at the end of March.

To see more photos of Blue, be sure to follow us on Facebook and check out her album.

To read updates on other WVS horses we follow, click here.

When we assist in the retirement of Wasabi Ventures Stables horses, we place them in good homes with different opportunities. Broodmares, polo ponies, and more are the next careers for these horses. Some may have owners who want a challenge, such as the Retired Racehorse Project’s (RRP)Thoroughbred Makeover.

This year two of our retirees have owners/trainers, who have applied and been accepted into this year’s makeover.

This year’s entrants

first ride

Grace adopted Play (JC Shecanflatoutplay) in August 2022. Retired with an injury, her road to the RRP Thoroughbred Makeover has been slow and steady. Starting with stall rest, working her way up to walking, and eventually riding, Play has been a terrific student.

Katie adopted Gilly (JC Mob Mentality) in October 2022. Leaving the track sound, she had fewer obstacles to overcome. After some downtime while she acclimated to off-track life, Gilly has been training with Katie, as she learns new skills.

The road to the RRP

After applying in January, Grace and Katie received their acceptance emails on February 15th from The RRP. Now the work can begin in earnest, as they determine in which discipline each horse will compete.

We look forward to more updates on Play and Gilly, as they make their way to the Thoroughbred Makeover!